Some Regrettable Grading Scale Effects Under Different Versions of Evaluative Voting

33 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2020

See all articles by Antoinette Baujard

Antoinette Baujard

University of Lyon 2 - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE)

Herrade Igersheim

University of Strasbourg

Isabelle Lebon

Université de Caen

Date Written: August 31, 2020

Abstract

Many voters seem to appreciate the greater freedom of expression afforded by alternative voting rules; in evaluative voting, for example, longer grading scales and/or negative grades seem desirable in so far as, all other things being equal, they allow greater expressivity. The paper studies to what extent the behavior of voters, and the outcomes of elections, are sensitive to the grading scale employed in evaluative (or “range”) voting. To this end, we use voting data from an experiment conducted in parallel with the 2017 French presidential election, which aimed to scrutinize the negative grade effect and the length effect in grading scales. First, this paper confirms that the introduction of a negative grade disfavors “polarizing” candidates, those whose political discourse provokes divisive debate, but more generally we establish that it disfavors major candidates and favors minor candidates. Second, under non-negative scales, polarizing candidates may be relatively disfavored by longer scales, especially compared with candidates who attract only infrequent media coverage and who are little known among voters. Third, longer scales assign different weights to the votes of otherwise equal voters, depending on their propensity to vote strategically. Overall, we observe that the benefits of the expressivity provided by longer scales or negative grades need to be balanced against the controversial advantage these give to minor candidates, and their tendency to undermine the principle that each vote should count equally in the outcome of the election.

Keywords: Evaluative Voting, Approval Voting, In Situ Experiment, Voting Scale Design, Behavioral Bias

JEL Classification: D72, C93

Suggested Citation

Baujard, Antoinette and Igersheim, Herrade and Lebon, Isabelle, Some Regrettable Grading Scale Effects Under Different Versions of Evaluative Voting (August 31, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3683849 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3683849

Antoinette Baujard (Contact Author)

University of Lyon 2 - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE) ( email )

93 chemin des Mouilles
Ecully, 69130
France

Herrade Igersheim

University of Strasbourg ( email )

61, avenue de la foret noire
Strasbourg, Alsace 3000
France

Isabelle Lebon

Université de Caen ( email )

F-14032 Caen Cedex
France

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